August 23, 2012
Yussuf J. Simmonds
Co-Managing Editor and
Ashley Nash LAWT Intern
Attorney Benjamin Crump, hired by the family of alleged police brutality victim Ronald Weekley Jr. is demanding that the Los Angeles District Attorney drop the charges against his client, stating that he did nothing wrong to warrant them.
“We not only based that on the video tape, but also the eye witnesses that were present there,” said Crump.
“And, the fact that they (the police) stopped him …they say that he was on the wrong side of the road … but we really think it was more about he was the wrong skin color… and that’s why they assaulted this young man…”
Crump is also representing slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, whose murder has been viewed by many across the country as a racist issue.
Weekley Jr., a student at Xavier University in Louisiana, was arrested Saturday, August 18, on the front lawn of his Venice home. Upon returning from breakfast and errands, Weekley said that he was reaching into his front gate (with his skateboard in his hand) when he heard footsteps rapidly approaching. Following a loud yell he said, he was grabbed by his hair, shoulders and shirt and immediately thrown to the ground.
“I didn’t know what was going on at first so I was just trying to control my body,” Weekley recalled.
He was completey compliant however, when he realized he was being arrested, he said. Despite his obedience, Weekley said that the officer to his right, reached over, grabbed his shoulder, took a step back and punched him in the face.
“Right then is when I realized that they didn’t care about my well-being at all,” he told the Sentinel in a recent interview.
Following the blow, he stated that the cop released his hold and he fell to the ground. Subsequently, two officers jumped on top of him. As he explained, “one detained my legs and hands and the other put his knee on the back of my neck, as he continued to punch my face three more times.”
It was then that Weekley said he began to cry for help and recognized that the cops were doing something wrong. Holding back tears, Weekley said that the police beat him until he was unconscious. When he finally came to, Weekley was in the back of the police car, asking to speak with family or friends.
“They never told me why I was being arrested,” said the Venice resident who was taken to Los Angeles County Jail’s Twin Towers and read his Miranda Rights.
Later news reports revealed that LAPD officers stopped Weekley Jr. for skateboarding in traffic on Sunset Avenue in Venice, which is a violation there. A spokesman from the department acknowledged that there was a use of force during the arrest and said Weekley was being charged with obstructing and resisting a police officer. The twenty year old science major, was found to have three outstanding warrants.
But Crump is dismissing the seriousness of those warrants, saying the claim is a weak attempt by officers to justify their actions.
“Here’s what those warrants are about,” he explained.
“He is 20 years old … he’s had a warrant for a curfew violation … at 16, he was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk … and for driving without a license. Furthermore, they did not stop him for any of those reasons. It’s ridiculous for them to try to offer that up, but that’s what they’re doing so it’s important that we get on the record of what these so-called warrants were for.”
Weekley said he suffered a concussion, broken nose and broken cheekbone. He was not properly treated until an African American officer noticed his injuries, he said. Before that, he was given Vicodin and sent back to his cell.
Weekley Jr. and his father Ronald Weekley Sr. joined Crump at a press conference this week demanding that the officers involved be held accountable.
“Everybody in Venice has told me that they don’t stop anybody for skate boarding in Venice,” Crump said.
“That’s part of the culture there … that’s what they do all day. When he was in the car and he asked why did they do this to him, they say because he was a dumb ass, who was skating on the wrong side of the road…”
Weekley was supposed to return to school next week. His court date is in mid September.